Eliot began his poem, "The Wasteland" with an epigraph that translates to: "I have seen with my own eyes the Sybil hanging in the jar, when the boys asked he what do you want, she answered 'I want to die." What an uplifting way to start your poem!! Just kidding. "The Wasteland" is divided into five sections: 'The Burial of the Dead," "A Game of Chess," "The Fire Sermon," "Death by Water," and " What the Thunder Said." So for this blog I'm just going to take it section by section.
The Burial of the Dead
To begin this section, Eliot talks about the seasons and how they change. He speaks of April and how it is the cruelest month. His speaking of lilacs and showers made me think of the saying we all know, "April Showers bring May flowers." Winter keeps us warm by blanketing the world in a thick snow. I disagree with that but then again, I'm very much a fan of warm weather. When he was talking about the Summer, there were two words that threw me for a complete loop: Starnbergersee and Hofgarten. Upon more reasearch, I found out that the first was a body of water (a sea) near Munich and the second was a court garden, Munich as well. After that, he starts talking about a fortune teller, maybe? I think she is reading tarot cards for him. Apparently, he doesn't draw great cards because he says he needs to be careful these days.
A Game of Chess
I think that Eliot may first be talking about a very rich woman because he mentions that it is a woman. Then he talks about her sparkling jewels and her ivory and coloured glass. I get the sense that this woman is the type that sits on her rumpus and shows off her riches. She seems to have it all, so why not show it off? Then I think Eliot starts talking about some type of bar or pub. The women he mentions here don't strike me as being really pretty either. One doesn't have any teeth. There's a big difference from the rich lady from the beginning of this section. The two women in the bar are talking about the possiblity of one being pregnant and having an abortion. She spent the money that her husband gave her for teeth on a abortion; that's classy. They stay at the bar until last call.
The Fire Sermon
Eliot begins this section talking about a river. The narrator of the poem basically sits thinking of how the world's situation has gone so badly. He sits and muses. Eliot continuously mentions Tiresius throughout this section of the poem. Tiresias was a blind prophet, often mentioned in Greek Mythology. He was famous for his clairvoyance and being transformed into a woman for several years. Knowing the background allows me to make sense of the "old man with wrinkled breasts" line from Eliot. The narrator sees a man and a woman basically hook up and then the man leaves right after they are done. The woman even goes so far to say that she is glad that's done.
Death by Water
This was my favorite section of the poem, because it was hands down the shortest! Eliot talks of Phlebas the phoenician. He apparently died at sea, maybe drowned? The fish and sea creatures pick at his bones and take his posessions to the sea floor. Eliot says to consider his story because he was once handsome and tall. I think Eliot is just making a point not to count your eggs before they hatch because you never know what may happen to you .
What the Thunder Said
Eliot begins this section with images of hot sweaty faces. He talks of fire and hard ground, but there is no water. He says that those who were living were now dead and those who are living are now dying. I get the impression in the first half of this section that there is some type of struggle going on, perhaps some type of battle even. That would explain the dying. He says that there are cracks and reforms in the violet air. Upside down in the air were towers. Again, this sounds like modern day depictions of war. Eliot changes his descriptions to a thunder storm and tells the reader what it is saying.